The holidays are almost here, and it’s the perfect time to help your friends and loved ones prepare for all their cold weather endeavors. Insert favorite pastime here: skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, backcountry touring, mountaineering, ice climbing, skijoring, winter camping, fat biking…
Here are some of our favorite gift ideas for winter gear and apparel, from down ponchos to ski goggles, puffy jackets, mittens and more. They range in size and price, but they’re all totally functional gifts that that special someone will use all season long. They’re also all pieces of winter gear that we’ve tested — and which got our official GearJunkie thumbs up.
The Greenland No. 1 Down Jacket is crammed full of down and sports a sturdy shell and lining (made without PFCs) to live up to years of use. Based on the brand’s original Greenland Jacket from 1968, this version has leather reinforcements on the hood and sleeves and recycled polyester lining. Fjällräven’s classic jacket has an 800-fill power with 95% ethically produced goose down. The shell is made from durable G-1000, a mix of polyester and organic cotton.Check Price at Fjallraven
The Untracked Jacket from Patagonia is something of a landmark ski product. It was the first jacket ever to use GORE-TEX’s new ePE Membrane, which has zero PFC chemicals and 100% recycled material. The material is soft but clearly durable and feels impenetrably wind- and waterproof.
Patagonia markets this jacket as being ideal for “big mountain descents or on the skin track.” Big vents make it possible to dump heat and air out if you’re working up a sweat, and the jacket includes an internally accessible pass through pocket on the chest. One of its coolest features, though, is the hood. Thanks to stretch panels on the side, you can pull it up over your helmet even when the jacket is fully zipped.
It’s an expensive piece of gear, no doubt. But it’s responsibly made, it’s totally bomber, and with Patagonia’s lifetime guarantee, it will last you for as long as you want it to. Check out GearJunkie’s full review.Check Men’s Price at Patagonia Check Women’s Price at REI
Compression socks have become popular among athletes for their reputed ability to reduce fatigue and soreness, minimize swelling, and help soothe tired feet and legs. They work by promoting improved blood flow by gently pushing blood up within your legs. That also works to keep your feet warmer during activities like skiing and riding. Sockwell’s compression ski socks are some of the best we’ve come across — and unlike most on the market, they’re made from bamboo.
The Sockwell Ski Socks use Accu-fit Technology to fit the wearer’s feet, ankles, and calves perfectly. They are comfortable even though they’re made from bamboo, they’re unrestrictive despite being compression socks, and they’re ideal for anyone who likes to spend long days out on the slopes. They have several styles for both men and women, varying in cushion and weight.Check Men’s Price at Amazon Check Women’s Price at Amazon
If you’re anything like me, the back of your car can sometimes look like a gear shop that was turned upside down and violently shaken up. Keeping adventure gear organized in a vehicle can be a challenge — which makes it easy to forget or lose things you need.
The San Util Designs TON 618 Gear Tote ($125) changed that for me, though. Developed with riding and skiing in mind, this black hole of a gear bag has a wide mouth that’s easy to stuff jacket, bibs, helmets, rain jackets, and even hip packs into.
The top has a Velcro closure that is satisfying to rip open, and quick to seal closed. And the vinyl-coated polyester mesh allows your gear to breathe, so you aren’t locking in nasty odors.
It’s got oversized handles that are very grabbable, and allow you to easily hang the tote up. Two daisy chains on each side also allow users to tie or clip gear onto the outside. This bag keeps everything in one place, and it’s drastically improved my gear organization abilities.Check Price at San Util Designs
This down hoodie, from Boulder-based company Artilect, stuffed a lot of cool technology into one puffy jacket. The hoodie uses ExpeDRY 700 fill-power down, which regains loft and dries out exceptionally fast if it gets wet. Our tester soaked his in the shower before going on a run in the dead of winter.
This midweight puffer is also made with stretch material so you have a lot of mobility while you’re wearing it. The front zipper is a YKK Touchlink Zipper, which allows it to share information on a smartphone held close to it. And it’s one of the first YKK zippers that can be replaced at home by hand.
The Artilect Fusion Stretch Down Hoodie ($380) is just an all-around, well-designed piece of gear. In testing, it was used extensively on cold early-morning runs, skiing, around town, and even under camo while goose hunting.
“It’s remarkably good,” GearJunkie’s tester concluded. “The only con I’ve found so far is the price. At $380, this jacket is a big investment. But given the pile of high-end ingredients, you get what you pay for.”Check Men’s Price at REI Check Women’s Price at REI
Made for the biggest, longest, and gnarliest alpine tours, climbs, and descents, the Rab Khroma 38L Ski Pack is an ultralight go-to that’ll be your companion on any alpine sufferfest. The Khroma 38L’s Spectra Ripstop fabric is made with fibers that are fifteen times stronger than steel, gram for gram, so it’ll stand up to both sharp granite and frigid temps along your alpine adventure. A quick-access safety compartment lets you access your avi kit in a flash, and the main compartment can be easily accessed via a generous back panel zip. Hip belt and sternum strap keep your weight equally distributed and a large roll-top entry enables easy packing and unloading.Check Price at Rab
The latest version of Zeal’s Hangfire goggles ($149) includes the brand’s “observation deck technology” that expands the wearer’s field of vision by 20%. Add the “optimized polarized automatic+” lens to it and you’ve got a goggle that lets you see more terrain, and that will automatically adjust to the natural light as conditions change around you.
In our tester’s review, he concluded that these were “one of the most functional pairs of ski goggles I’ve ever tested.”Check Price at Backcountry Check Price at evo
There are few pieces of winter gear that are as versatile as an insulated poncho. You can wear it around the neighborhood on chilly morning dog walks. You can wear it like a blanket around a bonfire. Or, you can keep it stuffed away and stored in your car for an emergency. The applications are only limited by your imagination.
Therm-a-Rest’s Honcho Poncho is a killer example. The hooded puffy poncho is extremely warm, it converts easily into a blanket, stuffs into its own kangaroo pouch pocket, and has snap button closures along the both sides. It’s a great cold-weather gift that will undoubtedly get a lot of use. Therm-a-Rest makes the Honcho Poncho in a synthetic version ($135) and in a down version ($260) pictured above.Honcho Poncho Synthetic at REI Honcho Poncho Down at Backcountry
For beginners and well-seasoned riders alike, Arbor built the Landmark splitboard to provide reliable grip uphill and a poppy, yet floaty ride on the downhill. The board integrates Arbor’s System Camber 4 Point technology to inform the ride and uses the Knucklehead nose shape to part powder and heavier snow.
It has a sintered base and Karakoram Ultra clips for a clean, fast ride. It has a split core, bio-plastic topsheet, and is available in camber and rocker builds at several lengths from 152cm to 164cm.Check Price at Arbor
Picture’s waffle knit beanie is made from recycled polyester and is extremely comfortable. The cap’s snug profile looks good with ski clothes or streetwear, and effectively traps warm air against your head. It stuffs easily into a pocket and stretches if you want to pull it over a ball cap. The York is perfect for casual wear, or active use while skiing, riding, snow shoeing, or doing other winter sports.Check Price at Backcountry Check Price at Picture Organic
Leki is known to many for its hiking poles, but the brand makes some killer gloves and mittens as well. The Patrol 3D ($130) is a goatskin leather ski glove with synthetic PrimaLoft insulation. They’re warm gloves. And they have great dexterity thanks to the supple leather and built-in finger waves that make them feel broken in right off the shelf.
These gloves also feature Leki’s proprietary trigger system. If used with Leki Trigger S or Trigger 3D ski poles, a small loop between the thumb and the forefinger snaps into the handle of the pole. Then, there’s no need for ski straps. To release, simply press the trigger on the pole grip and the loop comes free. Check out our review of the Leki trigger system for more info.Check Price at REI Check Price at Backcountry
When you get off the slopes or home from a long day on a snowy trail, there’s nothing quite like sitting fireside and enjoying some après drinks and snacks. The Camp Chef Juniper Fire Pit makes that easy. Instead of building a wood fire, simply attach the Juniper to a propane tank, turn the nob, and press the ignition. Voilà! You’ve got flames. No need to keep feeding the fire. If you get cold, just turn up the flame-control knob up.
The Juniper’s folding legs make the 16-pound fire pit easy to transport and store. And because it uses propane, you can use this fire pit outside in some cases when wood fires are prohibited. This fire pit will take anyone’s winter patio game to the next level.Check Price at REI Check Price at Dick’s Sporting Goods
Ski goggles are great, but they aren’t perfect for every situation or excursion into the backcountry. In fact, most people you’ll cross paths with on the skin track will be wearing glasses or glacier goggles. The NORVIK ($145-195) from 100% is not only an exceptionally affordable pair of ski glasses, they’re also high quality and absolutely stylish.
100% is known for its astonishingly clear lenses, and the NORVIKs live up to the reputation. The brand uses a proprietary technology called HiPER that filters out crossover areas where the human eye blurs primary colors together. That creates distinctly sharp contrast and provides a depth of vision that you don’t find in many other brands. They’re also hydrophobic and oleophobic to repel water, oil, and dirt; scratch-resistant; and offer 100% UV protection.
Our tester fell in love with these lightweight ski glasses. Check out the full review of them here.Check Price at 100%
The quilted Craftsbury socks ($26) from Gordini are wicked comfortable and keep your feet toasty warm no matter what you’re doing. These heavy-duty merino wool socks have a moisture-wicking layer that helps them stay dry when you’re working up a sweat. The insulative quilting pattern is designed to provide maximum warmth without adding bulk.
A padded shin panel protects against boot bang and abrasion, and added arch support prevents foot fatigue. These were my go-to ski socks last season, and they’ve held up remarkably well.Check Price at Gordini
Down booties are one of those things that you don’t realize you needed until you have them. And then, suddenly you you’re using them for everything from hut trips, to après skiing, or just as slippers around camp or at home. They’re warm, they’re easy to slip on and off, and they pack easily when you want to take them somewhere.
Big Agnes’ Full Moon Booties ($70) impressed us when we tested them earlier this year. The brand, known for it’s ultra-lightweight tents and camping equipment, came out with these in 2023. And they’re some of the warmest and most durable synthetic insulated booties we’ve come across.
Our tester concluded, “For hanging out in a hut, cabin, or ski chalet, or backcountry camping during cool nights, the Big Agnes booties are perfect.”Check Price at Big Agnes
H&M Men’s StormMove Padded Ski Anorak
Ready for whatever the mountain throws its way, the StormMove Padded Ski Anorak is part of H&M’s new Move collection of ski and snowboard apparel. The anorak features fully sealed and taped seams and a waterproof membrane, plus waterproof zips to keep you dry and cozy on the hill. The side zip opening allows for additional access and ventilation in between runs or at the lodge, and numerous zippered pockets let you stash all of the essentials for non-stop shredding, from bell to bell.Check Price at H&M
How to Shop for Winter Gifts
If you want to buy someone in your life something for winter, but don’t really know where to start you should first consider what that person likes to do. Are they a skier? Are they a snowboarder? Do they climb ice? Or do they just prefer easy winter hikes on mellow snowy trails? Answer that question and it will tell you what section of the store or website to start searching in.
Next, you should identify a budget before getting lost in the shopping. Outdoor gear can be very expensive, and narrowing your search by price helps to weed out a lot of options.
We’d also encourage you to do some research. There are a lot of brands out there that offer similar products with totally different features (for example, down versus synthetic fill) or levels of quality.
And some people are very particular about their outdoor gear. You don’t want to buy something nice for someone only to discover upon gifting it to them that it’s not a brand they trust, or it’s a model that has issues. A few simple internet searches can help avoid that. Talking with people who work at an outdoor retailer like REI or Moosejaw can help a lot as well.
Why Should You Trust This Author?
I grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado skiing, snowshoeing, and winter camping. To me, there are few feelings more rewarding than venturing out into the cold and being prepared with all the right gear to weather whatever Mother Nature throws at you.
I’ve been testing gear professionally for several years. Before getting into journalism I worked at The North Face retailer in Boulder and taught skiing at Beaver Creek. I’ve been around winter gear for my entire life, and I can get obsessive over searching for the perfect piece of winter gear.
Winter gifts can be especially useful. If you find the right thing, that special someone will use it every day. And every time they do, they’ll think of you. I picked the gifts on this guide because I used them throughout the winter on a weekly, often daily, basis last year. These were my favorite, most functional winter products of late, and the ones that I’ll be buying for my loved ones this holiday season.